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From February 17th – 19th, stakeholders ranging from academics to politicians to industrial partners, gathered at the annual Munich Security Conference to discuss global security issues. The significance of this event was underlined by the fact that it was the subject of over “4,300 news reports issued by around 100 news agencies” around the world. The conference analyzed a variety of issues, ranging from counter-terrorism and the number of western fighters supporting ISIS, to health security and the future of risks from Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR).

Speaker at the Munich Security Conference (Wikimedia Commons/Harald Dettenborn)

Global public health, which represented one the five key issues discussed at the conference, had its own dedicated roundtable. Previous global public health roundtables in Berlin, Addis Ababa, and Beijing analyzed local health problems, the challenge of providing public health in conflict zones, and the case studies presented with the global effort against Zika and Ebola. This year, the Health Security Roundtable focused primarily on “pandemic preparedness in ungoverned spaces” and the threat that diseases can pose to national and regional stability. The annual Security report detailed the state of global public health and pressing concerns in the field. Among these concerns were the facts that only 65 of 193 countries have developed frameworks to “detect and respond to infectious diseases” and since 2014, over 707 healthcare “resources” have been attacked – 58% of which were deliberate. In positive news, on the other hand, compliance with International Health Regulations has increased since the Ebola outbreak. Bill Gates’ speech, which addressed the the threat of bio-terrorism and the risks posed by a large scale public health epidemic with the potential to kill over 30 million people within the next ten to fifteen years, brought media attention to much of the conference’s global public health discourse. Ultimately, his position agreed with the annual report and called for a variety of initiatives including faster vaccine development, greater investment in public health, as well as epidemic preparedness exercises by military and other response organizations.

Videos of all speeches and panels from the three day event can be found here.

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Munich Security Report 20167 – Munich Security Conference
  2. Annual Report 2016 – Munich Security Conference
  3. BILL GATES: A new kind of terrorism could wipe out 30 million people in less than a year — and we are not prepared – Business Insider
  4. What happened at the Munich Security Conference 2017? Analyses and Press Reports – Munich Security Conference
  5. Munich Security Conference 2017 List of Participants – Munich Security Conference
  6. Munich Security Conference 2017 Agenda – Munich Security Conference
  7. Speeches – Munich Security Conference
  8. Health Security Series – Munich Security Conference